“Leaked EU Commission Paper Foresees Major Expansion of Nuclear Power, 17.05.2016
A draft paper from the EU’s Sustainable Energy Technology Plan, which is being steered by the European Commission, was leaked today in the German media. The paper argues for the expansion of nuclear power and builds on an analysis on the future of nuclear power in Europe (the Community Nuclear Illustrative Programme – PINC) by the Commission last month (1).
Commenting on the paper, Greens/EFA co-president Rebecca Harms stated:
“This paper again highlights the EU Commission’s tendency to dress up the figures on nuclear power. The supporters of nuclear power want to do all within their means to secure massive financial support to keep the industry alive, despite the fact it is not able to stand on its own two feet. EU competition law and state aid rules should be set aside for nuclear power.
“Following early proposals to extend the lifetime of nuclear power for up to 60 years, this paper from the depths of the Commission’s research directorate is proposing the crazy idea of promoting decentralised mini-nuclear reactors. EU nuclear proponents have already backed one wrong horse in pushing for European Pressurised Reactors since Chernobyl. The cost explosions in the foreseen and underway projects in Olkiluoto, Flamanville and now Hinkley Point have underlined that EPR is unviable and have driven the French nuclear firm Areva to ruin.
“The European Commission needs to finally give up on this failed and risky technology and instead put innovation and sustainability at the heart of the nascent European Energy Union. Majorly boosting energy efficiency and renewable energies, supported by urgently-needed research in energy storage, is the only path for tackling climate change and combining this with economic development, creating jobs across Europe.”
(1) The Greens/EFA group presented an alternative study to the Commission’s PINC paper last month. The study and a summary can be found at“: http://www.greens-efa.eu/pinc-2016-15348.html
http://www.greens-efa.eu/nuclear-industry-15558.html (Emphasis our own).
The European Commission appears to be, in part, discussing better grid connections between member states. While this is beneficial for renewables, it can also be used to distribute nuclear power and its high costs.
Scandal ridden, bankrupt if it weren’t owned by the French State, Areva recently signed a contract with NuScale for making small modular (mini-nuclear) reactor fuel assemblies. https://web.archive.org/web/20160426213218/http://us.areva.com/EN/home-3558/areva-inc-areva-inc–signs-contract-with-nuscale-to-manufacture-smr-fuel-assemblies.html
While the “European Commission rejects allegations of push for nuclear energy“, Brussels, 19 May 2016 http://ec.europa.eu/research/energy/euratom/index_en.cfm?pg=news_en&news=19-05-2016, what does the leaked draft document say?
It says: “In addition, in view of the increasing requirements for more flexible energy sources and non-fossil fuel process heat, small modular reactors (SMR) and co-generation plants may develop on a shorter timescale.
The present document should be regarded as a catalyst that can stimulate enhanced coordination of EU/MS programmes, public and private funding and joint actions in line with the agreed principal themes, which involve not only the specific targets but also, where necessary, the key enabling conditions boosting research and demonstration efforts.
Finally, Europe can retain technological leadership in the nuclear field, in line with the objective stated in the Energy Union Communication, only if it maintains a vibrant and indigenous nuclear industry and a corresponding diverse and well-funded nuclear research capability.” From: “SET-Plan Draft Declaration of Intent on Strategic Targets in the context of Action 10 ‘Maintaining a high level of safety of nuclear reactors and associated fuel cycles during operation and decommissioning, while improving their efficiency“, found here: https://wemove.eu/sites/wemove.eu/files/SET_Plan_Action_10-Nuclear-Draft_declaration_of_intent_13-05-2016.pdf
90% of EU uranium supply is IMPORTED. Therefore they cannot maintain an indigenous nuclear industry. The largest provider of uranium to the EU is RUSSIA which provides 25.6%, followed by Kazakhstan. Russia and Kazakhstan together provide 44.1% of EU uranium.
Along with the Russian government, those who benefit from uranium enrichment include French State owned AREVA, as well as URENCO, which is 1/3rd UK State owned; 1/3rd Dutch State owned, and 1/3rd German utilities RWE and E.On. The only uranium enrichment currently done in the USA is by URENCO. The old Nazi-Soviet uranium enrichment technology used by URENCO is reportedly more energy efficient-cheaper to operate.
The official online EU: “Issues Paper No.10 ‘Nuclear” from April appears even more frightening, as it includes fast reactors:
“small modular reactors (SMR) and co-generation plants may develop on a shorter timescale:
– licensed SMR design(s) available in the EU by 2025, with operating plant(s) by 2030;
– at least one Generation-IV demonstrator fast reactor operating in Europe by 2030, including associated fuel cycle facilities (pilot fuel fabrication and processing plants).”
It also speaks of research into Fusion. But, fusion makes high levels of tritium.
94% of US Uranium is Imported, Compared to 90% in Europe
“Six percent of the 57 million pounds U3O8e delivered in 2015 was U.S.‐origin uranium at a weighted‐ average price of $43.86 per pound. Foreign‐origin uranium accounted for the remaining 94% of deliveries at a weighted‐average price of $44.14 per pound. Uranium originating in Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan accounted for 37% of the 57 million pounds. Australian‐origin and Canadian‐origin uranium together accounted for 47%. The remaining 10% originated from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, and South Africa.” https://www.eia.gov/uranium/marketing/pdf/2015umar.pdf